tv KQED Newsroom PBS March 16, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT
next on kqed newsroom, looking for a makeover. the republicans have their convention this weekend. rebrandy. one pushes for race and gender to be considered in college admission. >> we have to make sure we have a diverse population, but more importantly, a diverse work force. >> and heeded the ablgctions ofs efforts to reverse parts of 209.
good evening and welcome to kqed newsroom. the california gop may have some soul searching to do at their state convention at burlingame this weekend. while there are challengers in the gub ernatorial race, scott brown intends to lead. >> no doubt republicans have their work cut out for them. their share of registered voters are shrinking, now less than 30%, they hold no state offices and have limited power in sacramento. the chair, senator brilty, is rebuilding from the ground up, a job he says could take up to a decade. joining me now to discuss what challenges are ahead for the
republican party are gop strategist hector brahasas. he's coveri scott detra is hosting. >> hector would probably agree with me that it's a little discouraging to be a republican in california, so i think what the republican leaders want to do here is hit pause and say, hey, guys, let's take a look back. we've had a pretty successful year. obviously we haven't gotten to the point where we're going to take the governorship, but they've paid off a massive debt, they've won some elections like the san diego mayors race and they feel like they have a pretty good chance of winning some election seats. >> it's making sure we are out there fundraising. i think scott is right in the sense we have paid off a very large debt. but it's also about recruiting candidates, and that's what
we've been doing the past several months, at the same time building a nice grassroots. >> it's making sure that we recruit the right candidates for the districts. obviously we have a lot of districts where there is a lot more latino voters. and it's making sure we get those latino candidates in those areas, people who understand what it's like to run for office. if you don't mind running for lower office and moving up, that becomes difficult because you've now put them in an assembly seat or race that's going to be very difficult for them. >> so you're saying ideally you should be getting more latinos to run for office as republicans? that's obvious, i guess. >> we have some districts, for example, in the central valley where we have 60% latino population. the big part of what we're trying to do is match candidates to the districts. >> and scott detro, candidates have a supermajority in sacramento, they're the ones where the senate slipped away because of the scandals.
what are the democrats focusing on in terms of getting that back? what are the parties really focusing on come november? >> you need to look at the central valley, you need to look at orange county. there is one leaving a senate seat for a vacant senate seat. so it's a handful of races there and also in the central valley that i think it will come down to. there is a whole separate conversation about congressional races, partly because of the way california has drawn its districts, there were several races in the sacramento area that were won 51-49 last time around. >> in a presidential year. >> so yeah, now you have an off-year election where the out-of-power party typically does pretty well in the sixth year of presidency, especially, i think republicans feel they can gain two or three congressional seats. >> hector, it's been a few years since prop 222 was on the ballot and it was really the decline
for the republican party. how big an impact did that have on your party and the latino community? >> not only did it have but still has. i was born in the united states, my parents weren't, but i was worried, am i going to get deported? does it accept me? i think you have a lot of latinos for one or two generations that feel that way and we have been slowly trying to rebuild, and part of that rebuilding has been to try to focus on getting people elected to local office. >> that's part of this weekend where you have the top of the ticket, the governors' race. two candidates, tim donnelly who made a name for himself. >> standing on the border with rifles. >> he tried to repeal the dream act here in california, so he's associated with those efforts, and i think a lot of republicans are concerned that if he ends up
in the fall election going up against governor brown, that's hard for the party to get over this hump they've been trying to do for a long time now. >> and you have neal cacciatore who is a son of immigrants, went into the financial industry and did quite well for himself. you do have a good contrast there between two individuals. >> you look four years ago, meg whitman was the republican nominee for governor. ron, head of hp, was the senate head. they both lost. what were the lessons learned from those two races? >> obviously, money can't buy you an election, money isn't everything. you have to build a nice grassroots base and do it year after year. it begins and ends four or five months before an election, and once it ends, it starts all over again. you go to some of these communities, and when you're absent four, five, six, seven
months, it's very different. i think what we learned from democratic parties, they have an ongoing cycle going every single month, and that's what we started to do. >> they're declining voters, not republicans, not democrats. what are the republicans doing to try to appeal to those voters? >> i think republicrepublicans, interviewed tim donnelly, he said it's not about social issues, i need to talk about financial issues. when you talked about the fact that you need to lower taxes, you need to improve-, the econo neal is talking about, focus on fighting poverty, i think financial issues, quality of life issues are something that everybody can relate to. nobody wants to pay more taxes than they have to, everybody wants to make more money. >> and maybe hector more of a libertarian on things like gay issues and abortion? >> more libertarian but it has to be about opportunity, opportunity for all
californians. the governors like to say we're out of this recession, but there are still a lot of people hurting. there are people unemployed and also underemployed. we have to be able to provide that opportunity. we have a drought situation in california. we have a central valley that may hit, again, 40% unemployment rate. what's going to happen to those individuals? what's going to happen to food prices when we go into the market? >> when you walk into that food hall this weekend, do you expect to see people who look like you, latinos, african-americans or the face of the party since ronald reagan or before? >> i expect to see more latinos. we elected 40 latinos in local office in the last year. they'll be at the convention. we have 80 races running at the convention and they'll be there, too. >> do you think that's been accomplished? how much more work is there still to do? >> we've always said it's about a six to eight-year process, and we're going to try to continue to work toward that goal. we know the asian community is
doing the same thing with a similar type of program, so we're trying to see a lot more diversity, but there's still a long way to go. >> hector, scott, thanks so much for coming in. >> thanks. >> thanks. it's been illegal for california public universities to consider race, ethnicity and gender in college admissions since 1996 when proposition 209 took effect, banning affirmative action. since then the state has seen significant drops in the numbers of african-american, latino and native american students on campuses. last year a group of african-american ucla students produced this video to highlight the lack of diversity at the school. >> now, you tell me that i should be proud to be at ucla. but only 35 of us are predicted to walk across that stage. >> the video, made by student cy stokes, went viral. they are considering whether voters can use ballot measures to ban affirmative programs.
now ed hernandez want voters to vote on repeeling part of prop 209. i spoke to senator ed hernandez earlier. >> senator, thank you for joining us. why are you proposing this measure? >> you know, it's about diversity, but more important, it's about equal opportunity for every student here in the state of california. >> can you explain further -- since prop 209 passed in 1996, there has been a 40% drop in admission in blacks admission, a 15% drop in terms of ucla. are those the kind of numbers that made you decide to try to get this measure passed yet again? >> that's just part of it. the other part is just the ability to have that discussion in our university system. we can have discussion about race in every other issue. give you an example. right now in california, we're talbtd# about ensuring individuals and cover
california. we're actively recruiting every single ethnic group that we possibly can. during the most recent redistricting, we have our citizen commissions is talking about communities of interest. when you look at our private institutions, like stanford here in california, they can have that as part of the process. where it's not allowed is in our university system. and what i'm saying is just habit is part of the application process and part of the process for admittance. >> opponents of the measures say college admission should be based on merit, not the color of your skin, that this is a reflective form of reverse discrimination. how do you respond to that? >> it is on merit. i totally agree. and if you look at every single student that should be accepted to our university system, it should be based on merit. for example, in the university of california, there are 14 criteria. this would mean just one additional criteria. it goes beyond race, it also
goes to gender. give you an example. let's say cal-poli, which has a great engineering program, if they need to recruit to get more women into engineering or do more science courses, right now they're barred from doing that. that puts them at a disadvantage. >> but if it's based solely on merit, then why consider race at all? >> well, i mean, because we would be at a disadvantage if we don't. why is it that stanford can go after some of the best and brightest from all ethnic backgrounds? this is just one criteria. and if you look at the master plan of the state of california, it clearly says that our institution should reflect a diversity of the state. it's not doing that. and if we're going to get prepared for the 20th century or the next century of how we're going to educate our students, we have to make sure we have a diverse population, but more importantly, a diverse work force. >> there is an on-line petition circulating now. nearly 100,000 people have signed it to try to defeat your
measure. many of the names on that petition are asian american, so this debate really is much more of a nuance now. it used to be affirmative action was black versus white, but now you have asian groups that are upset and fearing that they will come across unofficial quotas and be victims of the so-called bamboo ceiling that their children won't get into top uc colleges despite getting top grades if your measure goes through. what do you have to say to them? >> well, you know, first of all, i think everyone has a constitutional right to voice their opinion, and if they choose to start a petition, they have every right to do so. but i think the petitions that they're signing or signing on to is based on a lot of misinformation. we've been getting calls into our office saying their kids are not going to get in because now there's going to be quota systems. that's not true. the supreme court held, especially in the bacchi case, that quotas are unconstitutional, so that's not going to happen in this
particular case. and, as i mentioned earlier, everyone, including children from all ethnic backgrounds, are going to get accepted based on merit. >> senator ed hernandez, thank you so much for joining us from sacramento. >> thank you. appreciate it. thank you so much. for reaction now to the senator's proposal and a deeper look at affirmative action, we're joined by amy allison, senior vice president of power pac. evan low, councilmember and former mayor. and president of the legal education fund. we heard about the criticism coming from asian americans on this. a significant number of them are in the south bay where you're based. is it broad based or is it coming from certain sectors within the asian american community? >> well, what we're seeing is predominantly the chinese american community who are protesting this particular issue, and we know that the asian american community is quite broad. and when you look at the
enrollment rates of cambodians, loatians, many other communities are disenfranchised. so when we look at this, it's important to look at all demographics. >> you had asians protesting outside your office today, as a matter of fact, on this issue. what is their main criticism? >> well, the protests occurred outside tassembly member paul fong's office, urging him to vote no on this bill. what's important is that we clarify and talk about twhat's n the bill. we need to acknowledge and thank senator hernandez for the intent of trying to expand the pool of opportunity for access of all asian communities in california. >> amy, where does the conversation go from here? is this a conversation that should be about race, or is it more about class and income
inequality? >> in this last interview, you cannot talk about inequality or class without a conversation about race, because of the fact that our universities are not as diverse as they were before 209. we have to be able to look at and talk openly and address the issue of race. we're not in a post-race society. and we want, in california, and at one time it was the value of californians to allow all of our young people to have access to the california dream and the america dream through education. it happened for obama, it should be able to be accessed to all of our kids. the fact is life of californians after 209, it is not true for a wide swath of our population. i think this legislation is trying to get california back on the right track for our publicly funded universities to serve all the sectors of the population, including different races,
ethnicities, genders and classes. >> and is affirmative action the best way to lay out the playing field? >> you have to try something. you can't tie your hands behind your back and say, we're trying to get a balanced, diverse population. 209 didn't work. it probably took away the best tool and just made them blind, is what it did. you see the numbers. we're not where we should be. i think what we're seeing now when we have concentrations of chinese americans, we're seeing chinese americans thinking that they're being politically sophisticated by targeting asian american politicians and making them try to preempt the vote in the assembly, to try to kill this. and there have been already e-mails by chinese american groups saying sea 5 is dead on arrival. they're already congratulating themselves. what they're failing to see is what real political
self-interest is. they may have 40% of the seats in the sae system, but there's still just 5% asians in california, or 5% in the nation, 15% in california. minorities work together in coalition to get what they need, and they might find themselves trying to redefine what true political self-interest is. >> i'm glad you used the word minority because we need to clarify. in california and in six states, people of color, including asian americans, latinos and latin americans most impacted by this legislation are the majority of people in this state. so when we see legislation that tries to make our public institutions more equitable and diverse to reflect the population, it is simply responding to the needs of the population as it is. there is no such thing as a minority in the way that you -- and you defined it because now what you have is you have a
very -- you said nuanced -- but we have a diverse set of communities in california that often come together, and i think the population is such now where we are at a juncture where we are -- the self-interest is the interest of what's best for the majority. >> supporters of prop 209 have a point here that it should be for merit. if you're the best, you shouldn't be denied a spot. >> but if we end up with, say, 100% white people in an institution, we saw what happened there. we protested and we railed out against that. 40% are the majority. asian is no good, either. a meritostacracy takes race out of the picture and forces them to look at it realistically. we still didn't reach the promised land in diversity in terms of our numbers. >> go ahead.
>> another thing is this particular piece of legislation enhances and mentions that race is just one factor. and the fact of the matter, as amy illustrated, we still have underserved communities, so what is the best approach? this is a public policy and priorities question of californians. should we not fully expand the pool to allow for greater access. unfortunately, there are some in the legislature that are using this particular issue to divide us as a wedge issue between ethnic communities and all communities, and the real discussion should be how do we unite? all agree upon the accessibility for public education. >> how do we address that? how do we improve the accessibility and improve the school so that you don't have the situation where everybody is competing for a very small group of good schools, and instead expanding the pool of good schools. >> we need to change the conversation and to have different communities of color
fighting over crumbs is not what the california dream is about, it's not what the potential of the state is about. the divide and conquer strategy that we're hearing today, that 209 rode in on, which was to take asian americans and pit them against african-americans and latinos, we need to reject that thinking wholeheartedly and say as californians, our values are to give every young person opportunities through education to have a better life. that's why people come here, and that's really where we should be rejecting a divide and conquer strategy. >> the way out of the race question is to try to avoid it by talking about resources and talking about reinvestment in education. we talked about the priorities. maybe we begin with k-12. some people would say asian americans don't have a problem with it and are looking forward to college, but that's not true on a broad level. maybe we look at k through 12. right now we have a construction boom and we're spending $8
billion on construction. that's great, but who is going to be inside those buildings? sthae that's what we should be prioritizing. you need some building maintenance, but take some of that $8 billion and put it into the education offering, so that people don't think, if i get into uc-berkeley, that's like neiman marcus, if i get into merced, that's not the case. everyone shouldn't get hung up by this idea of prestige. i always think that the people who vote for 209 and wanted to preserve, you know, the status quo, which was overrepresentation of certain groups, underrepresentation of other groups. i think if they look at what equal opportunity and equity for everyone through resources, i think you'll get away from that thing where people get hung up with prestige and they look at the individual. >> well, this is going to be very interesting to watch, because it's passed the senate and it's now waiting for the assembly.
no hearing schedule yet and its fate is very uncertain. we'll certainly be watching, and the u.s. supreme court may weigh in on this later this year as well to decide whether voters can ban affirmative action through ballot measures. so we'll see how it all checks out. thank you very much. evan lowe, amy allison and emilio, thank you very much. hi, scott, good to have you again. >> hello. >> a judge basically rejected his lawsuit for pension reform initiative. remind us again what that measure would do. >> well, the measure would have allowed local governments to renegotiate any kind of agreement that they have with
public employee unions over pensions, retirement, benefits, health benefits, that kind of thing without necessarily having to go back to the bargaining table, but rather could say we want to renegotiate this, let's sit down and talk before the contract was up. and, of course, unions didn't like this at all, and chuck ree didn't like the ballot and summary that was put on it, so he sued and he lost this week, the judge saying he didn't really feel there was enough evidence, that it was misleading, which is what chuck reed and supporters of the ballot measure were saying. >> what in particular did chuck reed find misleading about the summary? >> you know, the ballot summary said that this would eliminate constitutional selections for public employees, and then she says such as nurses, teachers, and peace officers, all very popular public employees. and so chuck reed felt that that would prejudice voters against the measure, and the judge disagreed. >> and so what's happening now?
is he going to still attempt it for this year's ballot? >> well, there was some thought that he might, but time was running out to collect the signatures to get it on the ballot this year. he put out a statement friday afternoon saying they were abandoning it for 2014. they may resuscitate it for 2015, but that would be tough because it's a presidential election year, bigger turnout and probably a more liberal electorate. we'll see. >> also turning our attention to a national issue but of great interest here in california. yesterday president obama ordered his homeland secretary to review the status of immigrants. why is this coming up now? >> there was hope that the immigration reform would get done. it stalled in the house, and i think latinos and advocates are really frustrated. they've been pressuring the president. he has deporteda-3 more
undocumented immigrants than his predecessor, george w. bush, and they finally went to sit down with him this week and said, you know, this is tearing up families. you have to do something about this. so he's ordered his homeland security chief to look at the policy, see what they can do to make it a little more, in their words, humane. >> also late this afternoon, back here to local news, we got some additional information on the rancho feeding corporation, that's the petaluma company that was shut down after it was discovered that they were processing meat from diseased animals. what are you learning about that? >> well, mena kim in the newsroom spoke with bill wyman at the ranch. they have about 90 pounds of beef that's frozen and being held back by the usda. it's highly unlikely they'll get to release that meat and sell it. he's very concerned about that and really feels it could be the end of his company, which is one of the best known, grass-fed
♪ on this edition for sunday, march 16th, crimea moves ahead with a referendum to join russia. what comes next in the ukraine crisis? margaret warner reports from there. the latest on the disappearancy of malaysian airlines flight 370. what's behind the increase in some infectious diseases next on pbs newshour weekend. it's made possible did i --